At The Old Ballgame: Accessible Ballparks

Editor’s Note: Our friends at SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine are sharing a series of articles with Wheel:Life to help you discover and enjoy wheelchair sports as well as active, healthy lifestyles! We’ll be posting the highlights with a link to the full story below. 


Accessible ballpark design has come a long way in the last several years and continues to get better.

Ron Bellows has visited five MLB stadiums and also acknowledges parking is the top priority on his list.

Ron Bellows has visited five MLB stadiums and also acknowledges parking is the top priority on his list.

There’s no doubt what Gary Gesme, 68, gravitates to when he’s looking for seating at Major League Baseball (MLB) parks; it’s all about parking.

During his junior year in high school in Mason City, Iowa, Gesme was a passenger in a serious car accident. He suffered a broken back, a T-12 injury and has used a wheelchair since.

He and his wife still travel to baseball games, but the Genesso, Ill., native doesn’t venture out to Wrigley Field to see his beloved Chicago Cubs because the stadium doesn’t meet his standards. There’s no parking nearby and trying to maneuver inside is difficult, too.

Instead, he and his wife will make a three-hour drive to Milwaukee’s Miller Park and stay in the city to take in a three-game series against the Cubs because the stadium has better accommodations.

“The parking [in Milwaukee] is all one major parking area. It’s just a huge area. And the handicapped parking is up close. And it’s easy for people to do tailgating and things like that, where Wrigley Field is exactly the opposite,” says Gesme, who has traveled to a handful of stadiums, including Atlanta’s Turner Field, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis and some spring training games in Arizona. “It’s pieces all over and there’s no tailgating to speak of.”

collision-imminent-443726-mWhile Gesme has had issues with Wrigley Field, Ron Bellows has had no problems. The 70-year-old Mesa, Ariz., resident has attended five MLB ballparks including the old Kingdome and Safeco Field in Seattle, the Metrodome, Chase Field in Phoenix and Wrigley Field. Bellows contracted polio in 1952 and walked on crutches up until seven years ago when he needed a wheelchair.

When choosing accessible ballparks, the first item he looks for is parking for his wheelchair-accessible van. He hasn’t had much trouble with parking close or finding accessible parking at all those stadiums. Parking is most important on his list, followed by seats, as well as restroom location and access.

Baseball has universal appeal, to young and all, and should be accessible universally as well.

Baseball has universal appeal, to young and all, and should be accessible universally as well.

“It’s a different accessible level when you’re on crutches versus in a wheelchair,” Bellows says. “Your needs are greater in a chair of course than they are ambulatory.”

Find out how more on how Bellows still enjoys his favorite All-American pastime by reading the full story here.

SNSsubscribe_201401_coverAbout S’NS Magazine
SPORTS ‘N SPOKES is a bimonthly publication produced by the Paralyzed Veterans of America. S’NS reports on competitive sports and recreation for wheelchair users. Since 1975, S’NS has been a leader in wheelchair sports coverage and currently goes to more than 43 countries worldwide. Our readers come from all walks of life all having one thing in common: determination! SPORTS ‘N SPOKES is committed to providing a voice for the wheelchair sporting and recreation community.  Visit to view the latest issue.

Download Discovering: Accessible US Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users

Discovering-Coverlowres240x240In this book, you’ll discover a state-by-state directory of accessible travel destinations across the United States.

These accessible travel suggestions are part of the Get Out & Enjoy Life [GOEL] program that is a joint educational initiative between Wheel:Life, a global community of wheelchair users, and SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine, published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

More than 70,000 wheelchair users from 108 countries took part in Wheel:Life resources in 2014.

You’ll find that each chapter of this book provides easily-accessible destinations that are fun and engaging for friends who use wheelchairs. Discovering is an easy, encouraging read that will help you explore all kinds of travel destinations and family fun spots, whether you are new to using a wheelchair or a seasoned pro.

Please note that not every state in the US is featured in this travel guide, just the ones that we have included in our GOEL program to date.


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